CHANGE PROGRAM SAVES WARREN WWTP BIG BUCKS!
Abstract:The plan for change and the actual change process in a wastewater department can be two remotely different activities based on the organization, its internal culture, and strength of the union and expressiveness of customers.
Each step of moving from the traditional government business models to more progressive, competitive models presents organizational choices along the way. This paper and the associated presentation discuss this utility's success story and gives insight into decisions made by the performance management sponsoring team to achieve large cost savings in an environment of very strong union and customer pressure.
The Warren facilities include a 36 MGD design flow, operating at around 26 MGD average flow, with peaks in excess of 100 MGD. The most labor-intensive processes include scum handling from the primary and secondary systems, and the solids handling processes including pressure flotation, belt filter presses, and a multiple hearth incinerator. Remote facilities include a single, large, remote pumping station.
The overall performance improvement project for the Warren, MI, Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is in its fifth and final year. The program has included the following:
conducted an initial assessment of the organization, practices, and technology used within treatment facilities;
formed, trained, and guided the following teams to assess business cases for improvements, and plan and ensure completion of significant changes:
change sponsor team to plan, oversee, and remove obstacles to improve the organization's ability to properly produce clean water at a much lower cost
executive decision-making team which improved communication between the union and plant staff
grassroots-level steering team of many union employees guided by a management representative to help oversee and set direction for the union-staffed teams within the plant
community and in-plant employee communications team
chemical-energy-materials reduction team
workforce flexibility team which investigated ways to have workers get out of old “silos” of limited activities
skills-based compensation team to develop programs to reward more flexible and skilled workers
pilot recognition and incentive-based pay to facilitate project
plan-driven maintenance team to design and implement best maintenance practices
technology team to select and implement enabling technology (including control systems and maintenance management) as tools for higher productivity
computerized work management implementation team
teams of employees to pilot test the improvement ideas
implemented new technologies.
EMA's initial assessment found a significant gap between the controllable O&M costs versus the expected O&M costs if the plant was operated and maintained using recognized best practices in the industry. Annual savings now exceed 1.75 million per year with a four-year total of 5.8 million. Total savings are projected to be 8M by the end of 2003.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2003-01-01
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